Courts To Get Involved In Heated Tulsa District Attorney Race
TULSA, Oklahoma - In a heated battle to become Tulsa's District Attorney, the only two candidates left in the race are asking the courts to get involved.
Steve Kunzweiler filed a lawsuit claiming his opponent wasn't constitutionally eligible to hold the office, but now his opponent, Fred Jordan, is firing back.
There's been a lot of back and forth, but both candidates said they want the issue resolved soon so the voters will not have any distractions for the August 26th runoff.
The two candidates have legal paperwork submitted in Oklahoma courts dealing with Jordan's eligibility for the District Attorney position.
"If you want to be the District Attorney, in any jurisdiction, you're duty-bound to uphold, support and obey the constitution," Kunzweiler said.
His lawsuit claims Jordan isn't legally able to become District Attorney because of a recent pay raise for judges and DA's that passed during Jordan's term in the house.
That statute, boiled down, says no member of the legislature can be elected to an office where there was a pay raise passed during their term in office.
"My term in the state house ends on November 19th, and the prohibition is against taking another office during the term for which you're elected. So my term for which I'm elected ends on November 19th, 2014, my term as the District Attorney would not begin until January 5th, 2015, so I believe the law is on our side," said Jordan.
Wednesday, Jordan called Kunzweiler's last minute filing of the suit on June 16th politically motivated.
"It was very, very, disappointing that he waited until the week of the election to do that. It certainly could've been filed earlier, but he chose not to do that, probably so it wouldn't be resolved before the primary on june24th," he said.
The pay raise was signed by Governor Fallin on June 3rd, and Kunzweiler said he needed time to properly research the issue and consult lawyers before moving forward.
"Why would the framers of our constitution prohibit a legislature from increasing the salary and then having that person immediately try to assume that office? That's a very simple question to ask and a very simple question to answer," Kunzweiler said.
So this is all in the hands of the courts at this point. When that decision could be made is still up in the air.
Jordan said he has never considered throwing in the towel. He also said he has asked the court to expedite the process to get it all figured out before the runoff election on August 26th.